WCA CALL TO ACTION for Homeless Children re: COVID-19
Since County Executive George Latimer received our letter on April 17th calling for a county plan of action to protect and quarantine homeless children and families against the COVID-19 pandemic, WCA has talked with the Deputy County Executive and received a response from the Commissioner of DSS who shared some progress made. However, it still seems that more needs to be done particularly for families in overcrowded homes or who may become homeless in this crisis. WCA will continue to work with the County. You can help to spread the word and support the need for more information and options for homeless children in Westchester. (scroll down for details)
April 17, 2020
TO: Honorable George Latimer
Westchester County Executive
Westchester’s Homeless Children & Families Need a Plan of Action for COVID-19
Westchester Children’s Association, alongside a growing chorus of voices committed to protecting and rehousing Westchester’s homeless community, are calling on elected officials to take bold and swift action for those who are most vulnerable during COVID-19—our homeless children and families.
Last week, we submitted a letter to the Westchester County Executive requesting action. We need YOUR HELP to ensure homeless children and families are supported during COVID-19.
Over 3,000 homeless children and their families in Westchester mostly live in overcrowded homes and shelters making them more vulnerable to being infected with COVID-19. They lack options to safely practice social distancing, to recover at home, and to protect others. Coronavirus pandemic continues to spread, making the need for a comprehensive county-wide plan of action for homeless children and families even more urgent.
Homeless children and families generally have more health risk factors than those who are not homeless, exacerbating the risk of severe health outcomes and increased health care costs.
As Westchester has the third-highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths in New York State outside of New York City, Westchester’s 3,073 homeless children, their families and those who live near them are already at great risk.
Haphazard solutions are being pieced together on a case-by-case basis with limited guidance, alternative housing options, or funding making it difficult to respond to the growing population of impacted homeless families increasingly impacted by COVID-19.
We urge a comprehensive, public plan of action be issued working with community partners to provide immediate public guidance to support all homeless children and families in Westchester before COVID-19 reaches its anticipated apex. In doing so, Westchester County should follow national best practices to develop a public health response of the necessary magnitude to save the lives of countless residents.
Best practices for Westchester must include plans to:
Anticipate and adapt to homeless shelter staff absences with alternative staffing arrangements.
Provide ample transitional housing to homeless children and families who need to safely quarantine or recover, using options like vacant hotels, motels, or repurposing unused spaces.
Designate safe, alternative forms of care that protect vulnerable unaccompanied runaway and homeless youth and homeless children with single parents who cannot safely care for them as they quarantine.
YOU can make a difference TODAY for children and families experiencing homelessness in Westchester!
Share information about this issue with key Westchester decision-makers to persuade them to act quickly to support homeless children and families and protect our communities.
Call County Executive Latimer at (914) 995-2900 (leave a message) or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Download our Letter to County Executive George Latimer here
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